Basil Dearden's London Underground: Eclipse From The Criterion Collection
After mastering the mix of comedy, suspense, and horror that helped define the golden age of British cinema, Basil Dearden (along with his producing partner Michael Relph) left the legendary Ealing Studios and, in the late fifties and early sixties, created a series of
gripping, groundbreaking, even controversial films. In dealing with racism, homophobia, and the lingering effects of World War II, these noir-tinged dramas burrowed into corners of London rarely seen on-screen. This set of elegantly crafted films - Sapphire, a dissection of a hate crime; The League of Gentlemen, a deft heist adventure suffused with postwar melancholy; Victim, a landmark gay character study, starring Dirk Bogarde; and All Night Long, a provocative transposition of Othello to the swinging London jazz scene-brings this quintessential figure of British cinema out of the shadows.
A beautiful female college student is found dead in a public park; the police soon discover that her murder may have been racially motivated. Basil Dearden's bold, direct police procedural, starring Nigel Patrick as the detective in charge of the investigation, is a
devastating look at the way bigotry crosses class divides, and a snapshot of late-fifties England's increasingly interracial culture.
The League Of Gentlemen
Jack Hawkins wittily embodies a colonel, bitter about being f-rced into retirement, who ropes a cadre of corrupt former British army men into aiding him in a one-million-pound bank robbery - a risky, multitiered plan that also involves infiltrating a military compound. A delightful cast of British all-stars, including Richard Attenborough, Bryan Forbes, and Roger Livesey, brings to life this precisely calibrated caper, which was immensely popular and influenced countless Hollywood heist films.
An extraordinary performance by Dirk Bogarde grounds this intense, sobering indictment of early sixties social intolerance and sexual puritanism. Bogarde plays Melville Farr, a married barrister who is one of a large group of closeted London men who become targets of a blackmailer. Basil Dearden's unmistakably political taboo buster was
one of the first films to address homophobia headon, a cry of protest against British laws forbidding homosexuality.
All Night Long
Othello is translated to the world of sixties London jazz clubs in Basil Dearden's smoky and sensational All Night Long. Over the course of one eventful evening, during the anniversary celebration of the musical and romantic partners Aurelius Rex (Paul Harris), a bandleader, and Delia Lane (Marti Stevens), a singer, Johnny Cousin (Patrick McGoohan), racked by ambition and jealousy, attempts to tear the interracial couple apart. This daring psychodrama is also remarkable for its on-screen appearances by such jazz legends as Charles Mingus, Dave Brubeck, and Tubby Hayes.